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Thread: Abuse of trust & authority for sexual favours

  1. #1
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    Abuse of trust & authority for sexual favours

    Was starting to write about this in the Community Experiences thread but I thought this requires a thread all its own.

    A phenomenon I've seen many times in many different types of supposedly spiritually-centered groups is this: An older man in a position of power, often the head of a group and considered spiritually "advanced", uses that position to try to seduce and/or coerce young women into sleeping with him. Often there is an unspoken but understood threat of exile if they reject his advances.

    I'm sure there are instances of women doing it too but I've not seen or experienced that myself. I've heard of a lot of men doing it through.

    I wanted to throw open some questions for discussion about this itt:-

    1) Why and how does this keep happening when its a culturally unacceptable phenomenon nowadays?

    2) Why is it so awful ? (for those reading who might wonder what the fuss is about)

    3) What kind of things would need to happen to change it?


    4) How best can people who have been through this kind of thing be supported?
    Last edited by Proteus; February 4th, 2011 at 09:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Proteus View Post

    1) Why and how does this keep happening when its a culturally unacceptable phenomenon nowadays?
    I don't know why. This boggles my mind. People are weak to their lusts? In my experience, I think on a subtle level it had to do with energy draining/sharing/high... sort of mutual group vampirism... but it's hard for me to explain why I think that.


    2) Why is it so awful ? (for those reading who might wonder what the fuss is about)
    I think I would akin this to the priest molestation incidents seen in the Roman Catholic Church. This also happens in other religious cults...

    It is 'so bad' because, you the seeker, are looking for something 'more' something 'elusive' you are looking for a 'guide' to something 'more'. A teacher relationship requires honesty and trust on behalf of both student and teacher. You find yourself not only betrayed in a friendship, but in the name of a spiritual truth. These people have used the name of the God and Godess to take advantage of others. There are so many things wrong with that.

    3) What kind of things would need to happen to change it?
    What I found most surprising in my case was the group... We were all friends for a few years before we started 'covening'. years. good friends. best friends. They were all eclectic pagans of various flavors, and I was younger. When I started asking each of them about paganism because I was curious It seemed like a good idea we all meet up for discussion, ritual, and teaching each other. There were several things that estranged me from this group... what sealed the deal for me was that these people called me friend, then condoned abuses done to me. AND to others in the group. No one stepped up to defend me, or the other victims in the group. I think I am the only one that left, I don't think anything has changed for them.

    So, a solution to any self-respecting-human-being would be... outcry! If you see this happening, you should not only tell them its not kudos, but everyone in the community should know what has happened. Maybe a 'sexual predator' list of covens and or persons? Unfortunately, not everyone is attached to a network or a coven, but if they are: it is the predator who should be estranged not the victim.

    Unfortunately, some groups seem to like being toxic, it is to their advantage The rest of us can educate and warn others. And do what we can when we see it. Castration would be nice, but an unrealistic solution in our modern 'civilized' society. If someone breaks a law... i.e. involving a minor, rape, molestation etc. Authorities should be contacted. Otherwise, social castration is the only thing I can think of... I'm eager to hear other ideas on the matter.

    4) How best can people who have been through this kind of thing be supported?
    It was hard for me, I lost my whole group of friends. I ran away from religion for a long time. I had no one to support me. I have only recently started talking about it (here). This is kind of helping... I see that I'm not the only one this kind of thing happens to... but that also makes me more mad. I wish that there was more I could do to keep this from happening to others...

    My opinions on the matter are still quite bitter and enraged, as you can probably read in my responses.
    Last edited by Eyeris; February 6th, 2011 at 03:09 PM.

  3. #3
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    If you do find any groups of women in positions of power taking advantage of unsuspecting male members, let me know. I would like to join -heh-heh!

    Seriously, this is unfortunately something that does happen in the ATR's as well. Usually the larger community finds out about it, and puts the word out. so those that do their research don't get taken advantage of.

    But , buyer beware!!!!

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    Does anyone know of any watch-lists that exist? Other than word of mouth, for your particular path or tradition, has anyone compiled one?

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    I know of one very big watch-list: Google.

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    It all comes down to control. Those who have it don't want to lose it. They use fear in order to make sure that they don't lose it. The ones who have lost it are to scared to take it back. It is a nasty cycle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proteus View Post
    1) Why and how does this keep happening when its a culturally unacceptable phenomenon nowadays?
    It keeps happening because there are still people out there who will prey on those that want or need something, and those that want or need something continue to allow themselves to be preyed upon. These people are supposed to be our teachers and we're supposed to be able to trust them, and people need to have the sense to realize what's going on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Proteus View Post
    2) Why is it so awful ? (for those reading who might wonder what the fuss is about)
    Taking advantage of others is pretty awful in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Proteus View Post
    3) What kind of things would need to happen to change it?
    People need to stand up when this happens. They need to say no and take a walk instead of putting up with it. Those responsible should be held accountable both within the coven itself and legally if the situation requires.

    Quote Originally Posted by Proteus View Post
    4) How best can people who have been through this kind of thing be supported?
    Their friends, family, and hopefully the coven involved should rally to them, and I believe that many of them could probably use some sort of counseling.
    "Wolf is the Grand Teacher. Wolf is the sage, who after many winters upon the sacred path and seeking the ways of wisdom, returns to share new knowledge with the tribe. Wolf is both the radical and the traditional in the same breath. When the Wolf walks by you...you will remember."
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proteus View Post
    I know of one very big watch-list: Google.
    I googled: http://www.widdershins.org/vol10iss1/04.htm an experience with sexual predator at a coven, though not an authoritarian figure.

    national sex offender registry.

    *THIS DISCUSSION* is result number 5!! ("pagan sexual predator watch list")

    a weird christian web pagses a.k.a. 'wicca is evil' type stuff o.O;;

    this site seems kind of useful... http://www.pagan.com/ProblematicPagans/index.html it lists registered sex offenders and those convicted of other types of violent crimes that are known to visit powwows and pagan events.

    It also comes up with some individuals with the last name of "pagan"

    Not a bad start... but I have not yet come across something say, for "ben" in the first link. For those of you in covens, is this type of discussion between covens common? what about across the states?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eyeris View Post
    I googled:
    Not a bad start... but I have not yet come across something say, for "ben" in the first link. For those of you in covens, is this type of discussion between covens common? what about across the states?
    The trick with watchlists is two-fold: first, they're not always that helpful (people move, change the name they're using, don't mention where they used to be, etc.) and second, you've got to rely on other people to provide useful accurate information that simultaneously won't be abused for personal disagreements.

    After all, someone can be a lousy fit for a particular coven, or even badly behaved, without necessarily being predatory or abusive. And people can be on the wrong side of a nasty divorce without being abusive. (And likewise, abusive and predatory stuff starts somewhere, so someone's previous experiences in the community might have been fine, then something happens to change their behavior/values/whatever.) The combination - plus the possibility of threats or harassment from people who are listed publicly as being problematic - means general lists aren't that common.

    That said, there is, in my experience, a lot of little quiet conversation going on among coven leaders in a particular area, or within a particular tradition, or event runners in a general geographic area. It's not that people trade notes on everyone - but when something comes up that pings someone's caution/intuition, they may ask around quietly.

    And a lot of group leaders now will ask point-blank about previous groups someone's been involved with, why they left, and any appropriate follow-up that seems relevant based on those answers (and then often go and do at least a basic follow-up with the former groups or people who know them if it's at all possible.) Much like a job reference, really. It doesn't catch everything, but it's one more tool that can help.

    Personally, for coven-related work, I think one of the best protections for a group is to take plenty of time to know someone before full membership, and particularly before they get teaching responsibilities or other leadership duties. (By which I mean at least a year.) A lot of times, someone who's more interested in using others, in whatever sense, will show their hand in that time, and if the group leadership is attentive and responsive, things can be handled before they're destructive for the group (or individual members)

    The place it's trickier is for larger events - some are open pretty entirely to the public, which means it's very hard to filter attendance for anything short of a legal solution (restraining order, something similar) and the willingness to deal with acting on it. Some are registration events (festivals, hotel-based conferences, etc.) where refusing admission is a bit more feasible, but it requires knowing where there are problems. Quiet conversations with other event organisers help - but since events can be quite different, someone might be a big problem at one event, but not have been at previous ones, or the evidence/information available may not be sufficient to really act on.

  10. #10
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    1) Why and how does this keep happening when its a culturally unacceptable phenomenon nowadays?

    I wish I knew the right answer to this, where there is a light there is dark, where there is honesty and trust there is the opposite. I also think it has to do with lust, ( as Eyeris stated) and perhaps even loneliness...

    2) Why is it so awful ? (for those reading who might wonder what the fuss is about)

    It goes against the "harm none" that we are all first introduced too. Not only this but we put our trust in our mentors to guide us and teach us, When this sort of act occurs that trust is violated. There are so many things wrong about this. It paints a terrible picture of our spiritual path and we are already at odds with many who do not understand.

    3) What kind of things would need to happen to change it?

    I loved what you said Eyeris we do need to cry out for help for ourselves and for others. Educate and warn. I think it would be amazing to see a list of covens or people who are potential threats. It is also good to verify a groups status if they claim something they are not.

    4) How best can people who have been through this kind of thing be supported?

    They should tell someone and talk about it; I have had this happen and promptly told my mentor to leave or I would take measure to remove from my home ( I was sick and wanted the lesson at my home) I did not see it coming, but when it did I think I was strong and pushed him accordingly. Maybe a group of people could make a website for pagans with such issues. Not just this but others as well for them to branch out for help. I like that idea.
    ~Varia V~

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